On 15th of December, in the EU Info Centar in Skopje, BCSDN in cooperation with MCIC held a public consultation with CSOs regarding the two bylaws proposals by the General Secretariat of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia – Unit for Cooperation with NGOs: the Decision on establishment of Council for promotion of cooperation, dialogue and stimulating the civil society development; and Proposal to Decision on conditions for allocation and use of funds from the Budget of the Republic of Macedonia for financing program activities of associations and foundations. These two bylaws are key measures envisioned with the Strategy for collaboration of the Government with the civil society sector (2012-2017).
During the consultation, international standards and practices in the respective fields and the state of affairs with the cooperation between state institutions and civil society and public financing for CSOs in Macedonia were presented. The presentations were followed by extensive discussions among CSOs representatives on the content of the two draft decisions. The CSOs representatives demanded the deadline of the online consultation to be extended until the end of January 2015 so more CSOs would have a chance to participate.
For the first proposal-decision, the participants suggested that the criteria for nomination of candidates in the Council should be changed so to allow more equal chances for CSOs for participation in the elections. Moreover, the participants proposed that candidates’ competences should have a bigger weigh in the evaluation criteria instead of the organizational capacities of the candidate`s CSO, and demanded that the President of the Council should be elected among the civil society representatives in the Council. It was proposed that the costs related to work of the Council should be covered for all the representatives, and also, the Council should meet at least four times per year and publish the information about its work.
Regarding the proposal-decision on the conditions of state financing, the CSOs representatives underlined the limited scope of the document which regulates only the financing of program (project) activities of CSOs and foundations. The participants require a comprehensive reform of the state financing system which would also provide institutional grants and co- financing of EU projects and other international projects, as well as mechanisms for transparent and accountable financing of CSOs. The criteria for approving a grant should be devised so to give equal chance to less and more developed (old and new) CSOs. It was recommended that the enactment of the bylaw on state financing should be postponed and the system of state financing should be a matter of analysis and discussion of the Council.
The comments and proposals by the participants were compiled in an integral document that will be sent to the Unit for Cooperation with NGO before the deadline of the online consultation on 20.12.2014.